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Wilmington, DE Window Replacement Guide
Whether it is the longing for better energy efficiency or simply to upgrade old, damaged ones, there are plenty of reasons a homeowner may choose to replace the windows in their home. However, where does someone even begin in this process? Considering that most windows have a lifespan of 10 to 40 years, it is probable that most people have only gone through this type of renovation once or twice at best. Yet with a bit of research, you can find windows that will be perfectly⎼and legally⎼installed as well as stand up to the whatever Mother Nature throws Wilmington’s way.
This Wilmington Window Replacement Guide will assist you in understanding the renovation process by examining how to recognize when a replacement is necessary, the different materials that are available, and all that is required to perform the job legally.
How to Know When a Window Replacement is Necessary in Your Wilmington Home
Although age is definitely an important factor to consider, it is not always the best indicator as to when a window should be replaced. If you have begun to notice that your window frames are cracked and leaking, it is obviously a sign that more than a simple repair is needed to avoid more serious damage to the structural integrity of your home due to water damage or health risks for your family from mold growth. Similarly, if your windows can no longer open or close easily⎼let alone at all⎼because of warping, your family could be in serious danger if ever an emergency were to occur. With Wilmington getting over 110 days of precipitation a year, it’s easy to see how damage of this nature can occur, no matter the quality of window.
Energy efficiency with your current windows versus replacements should absolutely bear some weight in your decision making process. When your old windows are drafty, not only does it make you uncomfortable, but it makes your central air conditioner unit and heater have to work that much harder to maintain a constant temperature in your home, too. Though there are ways to help make any window more energy efficient, the Efficient Windows Collaborative reports that homeowners can expect to see a 15 percent drop in their utility bills when single pane windows are replaced with newer eco-friendly alternatives, which translates into hundreds of dollars saved in a year. In fact, in the 2015 Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors, 61 percent of survey participants said that they have a “greater desire to be home since completing the project.” Added bonus: this report also showed that homeowners recouped 80 percent of their renovation budget immediately via a bump in their home’s property value! With payoffs like these, it makes it hard to say no to starting your own window replacement project.
Window Materials Matter in Wilmington
When considering which type of window you would like in your home, you will need to decide on the window framing material, single versus multiple-paned windows, and any sort of specialized energy efficiency coating.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of possible window frame materials and combination of materials available on the market, but the three main materials are solid hardwood, vinyl, and aluminum. Due to Wilmington’s wet, cooler climate, any thermally improved, nonmetal options, like treated wood and enhanced vinyl, will be your best choice. Wood is definitely has a classic look and is one of the most durable materials you can choose, though it will come with a hefty price tag as it is usually being one of the most expensive options. On the other hand, vinyl can be one of the least expensive materials, quite durable, and fairly maintenance-free. The main drawback is vinyl’s aesthetic and the lack of color selections available.
The better your windows are at blocking out thermal heat and reducing air transference, the more expensive they will be. If you are hoping to use the highest quality energy efficient window, be sure to plan your budget accordingly, but do still bear in mind the return on your investment as well. There are three main identifiers that Energy Star and the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) use to gauge just how energy efficient a window: U-value, Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC), and low emissivity (low E). The U-value and SHGC amounts measure the rate at which a window is able to conduct heat or solar radiation flow respectively from the exterior of your home to the interior and vice versa, while the low E represents how effectively the window can reflect heat.
As a Wilmington resident, you have a fairly wide range of window options that will suit the climate well. As for which will best suit your home specifically due to its orientation and level of shade, it is advised to ask an experienced professional. However, it is safe to say that any multi-paned, gas-filled window with a U-value below 0.3, SHGC below 0.4, and has a low E coating will work incredibly well at keeping you cool in the humid summers and warm in the snowy winters.
Windows Permits, Inspections, and Fees for Wilmington Residents
A building permit is required for all home renovation projects in Wilmington, and an application is available on the City of Wilmington’s webpage. For most projects, the contractor will need to be the one to file the application at the Department of Licenses and Inspections (DLI) which is located at 800 North French Street, 3rd Floor, Wilmington, DE 19801. At the time the application is submitted, a fee of $12 per $1,000 of construction costs will, also, be assessed. For example, if your project is expected to cost $25,000, then your fee will be $300. Assuming that you are opting for like-sized windows and are not altering your home’s walls at all, then building plans should not have to be provided.
Once construction is completed, a city inspector will need to review the work to ensure that everything has been done safely and to code. In order to schedule your inspection, you can call (302) 576-3030 during regular business hours. If you have any questions at all regarding this process, contact the DLI at (302) 576-3046.